Smart Home Cooking with Terra’s Kitchen
Our latest experiment with smart home packaged cooking kits is Terra’s Kitchen. When we saw the ads for the service on Facebook, it seemed to good to be true. Most all of the ingredients with the service come pre-prepped: washed and chopped. As anyone who has cooked one of these meals knows, prepping the ingredients can take a significant amount of time.
Signing up online was easy and Terra’s Kitchen offered a generous incentive to try through a Facebook ad. Once we signed up, we chose from more than 50 different meals available, all based on the Mediterranean lifestyle, so every recipe, even the higher calorie ones, were healthy choices. You can filter the choices, for vegetarian meals of course, but also for other dietary options such as paleo, vegan and gluten free.
When we placed our first order, the choices were so broad they were almost overwhelming. What we noticed the second time, though, was that for the types of foods and meals we like, there are really not that many choices and the meals don’t change every week. So if we were regulars on Terra’s Kitchen we would be getting the same meals at least a couple of times a month.
The meals arrived in Terra’s really impressive re-usable shipping vessel. It is essentially a mini-fridge with shelves inside and a removable “door” that seals the box to keep it climate controlled and fresh on arrival. This is really important for us since we live in a hot climate and we often worry about our packages sitting and waiting for us in the heat. Inside, all of the ingredients are packaged in individual containers, labeled with the name and the corresponding number for the meal.
Once we unpacked the shipping vessel, we sealed it back up, put it back on our porch and peeled off the shipping label, revealing the return shipping label underneath. Then FedEx picked up the box the next day. The vessel is great and certainly saves us the trouble of recycling the shipping materials.
We did have a stressful moment on our first shipment. We were missing one ingredient listed on one of the meal cards and we kept checking and re-checking our vessel to make sure we hadn’t left itinside. There are many reminders inside the box to warn you about leaving stuff in there so that must happen a lot. Later, when we cooked the meal, we realized it was a mistake on the card and the ingredient wasn’t needed.
The meals are definitely easier to make than the other services, averaging about 15 minutes of prep time. Most everything is washed and chopped – onions are sliced, garlic is minced, pineapple was cubed, etc. Sometimes things need to cut into smaller pieces or chopped just before serving, such as parsley and cilantro, but otherwise it mostly comes down to cooking and assembling.
The first few meals in our shipment were pretty tasty, though simple. Our second shipment was not as successful. The Cajun Lemony Shrimp with Red Rice, which looked delicious, didn’t really have a lot of flavor, the chicken in the Bacon-Wrapped chicken with Honey-roasted vegetables was pretty good but the vegetables were just ok, and the Turkey Spinach Meatballs in Skinny Sunday Gravy was pretty unsatisfying.
Terra’s Kitchen also offers side dishes, smoothies and salads in addition to the regular meals. We have really liked their single serving salads – they are great to have on hand for healthy lunches. They also have some bundles that look like healthy Lunchables for adults. The vessels have a lot of room, especially if you are just ordering for two people, so it is easy to add these to your order.
The biggest difference between Terra’s Kitchen and the competition is the price. The minimum order to qualify for free shipping in $62.99, which is not that different from the others, but the meals have different price ranges – from $9.99 to $16.99 per serving. At $16.99 per serving, you are now in the range of a mid-range restaurant or prepared delivery service, and while you don’t have to leave your home, you still have to cook the meal and do your own dishes. We find that a lot of the meals are pretty simple too – tacos and salads, which are really not that hard to shop for and cook yourself.
While Terra’s Kitchen didn’t work for us, they do specialize in healthy food choices, so we could see the appeal of using the service if you are following a diet plan such as gluten-free or paleo, and the addition of salads, smoothies and side dishes is an easy and convenient way to shop.